on January 11, 2013

In late 2012, my family and I decided to use some land that we had, to grow timber. As with all my projects they start with a detailed plan and the hopes that I’ve not missed anything. We all know the saying about plans, which became especially true for this venture.

How we came to being in forestry was a simply thought process, my brothers and I wanted a change from our usual businesses and we wanted to learn about the industry from the ground up. We decided to take the opportunity to do much of the physical work on our own without considering how much physical work it would actually be. I guess this is sometimes the best way to get past difficult road blocks, don’t think about it, just do it, as Nike says.

One thing we were not sure about was the species of timber that we should plant on the land, so we bought in a professional to advise on the species and to source them. We decided on a mixed species plantation at 3mx3m planting intervals. The plan was to create a 10 year x 4 plan, harvest our first trees in 10 years, our second lot 10 years after that and so on. In other words, as some species got to maturity, we would remove and sell them, creating space for the remaining, slower growing trees.

Now that we had the plan on paper, we needed to get down to doing the actual work. We needed to have all the holes to plant the trees dug before several thousand seedlings turned up a few weeks later. We dug all the holes with a two person, petrol post hole digger, which wasn’t a great idea. Every time it got stuck (which was every hole) the bit stopped moving and the handles started moving, imagine a fast moving petrol powered merry-go-round. By the time we were finished we were battered and bruised but we did get the holes dug.

The next part was easy in comparison, we planted all of the trees in a pre-planned grid to support our 10 year x 4 plan and stepped back to enjoy our handy work. After all that very hot and physical work, I’m pretty sure we all hoped the physical work was finished.

My brother lived near the site, so he had volunteered to mow the grass between the trees while they were still small. After a few weeks of mowing, he mentioned that he was having to mow the grass while hanging off the side of the ride on mower so that it wouldn’t roll over. I asked him what he mean’t and he tried to illustrate by talking about sailing and hanging off the side.

We all had a good laugh until Damian mentioned that it was getting dangerous. When Damian says something is dangerous, its usually not even remotely safe. We decided that we needed to create something a little safer, so I put my robotics skills to work and built a remote control lawn mower or slope mower as they are sometimes known. I built a second version after the first version was damaged.

We have plans to increase our forestry holdings, focusing exclusively on cabinet timbers on land that we would otherwise go unused. We have found that if we select the correct sites, we do not need large amounts of water for irrigation and once the trees reach 2-3m in height, the amount of work that needs to be done is minimal. I am not sure in the future if we will plant any more western red cedar as we have found tip moth to be quite prevalent. I am very certain that we will no longer dig holes with the handheld posthole digger :-)